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Canadian Association of Physicists Speaker Tour 2024

The Canadian Association of Physicists is back with their 2024 Speaker Tour! This year, each of the six speakers’ presentations will be hybrid, so don’t worry if you can’t make it in person! Links to the CAPhys YouTube livestream site will become available on the CAP website before each event.

NOTE: The lecture and speaker information are available in the language of the talk only.

Headshot of Philippe-St-Jean
Prof. Philippe St-Jean

Université de Montréal

Prof. Philippe St-Jean

En juillet 2021, Philippe St-Jean a joint le département de physique de l’UdeM en tant que professeur adjoint et titulaire d’une chaire de recherche en photonique quantique financée par le Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie du Québec. Il a obtenu son doctorat de Polytechnique Montréal en 2016 dans le groupe du professeur Sébastien Francoeur, puis a occupé un poste de chercheur postdoctoral au Centre de nanosciences et de nanotechnologies (Université Paris-Saclay), soutenu par des bourses du CRSNG (2016-2018) et Marie-Sklodowska-Curie (2018-2020) dans le groupe du professeur Jacqueline Bloch. Une de ses contributions les plus importantes a été la première réalisation d’un laser topologique. De 2020 à 2021, il a travaillé en tant que chercheur chez Anyon Systems, où il a travaillé sur le développement de processeurs quantiques basés sur des circuits supraconducteurs. Depuis 2022, il est un des membres fondateurs de l’Institut Courtois et le responsable de l’axe photonique quantique de cet institut.

Dates and Locations

Friday, March 1 at 2:00 pm EST

Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (Hybrid)

Photonique quantique topologique

La découverte des phases topologiques de la matière a eu un impact significatif sur notre compréhension de la physique de la matière condensée. Une caractéristique majeure de ces matériaux est leur robustesse face aux perturbations externes, jouant un rôle critique pour de nombreuses applications importantes. Parmi les exemples les plus notables de telles applications, on note les plateaux de conductivité dans l’effet Hall quantique, aujourd’hui utilisés en métrologie pour définir le kilogramme, et les excitations de Majorana dans les hétérostructures superconducteur-semiconducteur actuellement étudiées pour la construction d’ordinateurs quantiques tolérants aux erreurs. À la fin des années 2000, Duncan Haldane (co-lauréat du prix Nobel de physique 2016 pour la découverte des phases topologiques de la matière) a démontré que cette physique topologique n’est pas restreinte à la matière condensée mais peut également émerger dans des systèmes artificiels tels que les cristaux photoniques en ajustant avec précision leurs propriétés de symétrie. Cela a conduit à l’émergence d’un domaine florissant appelé la photonique topologique. Grâce à leur extrême polyvalence, ces plateformes photoniques se sont révélées être une ressource incroyable pour pousser l’exploration de la matière topologique au-delà de ce qui est physiquement accessible dans l’état solide. Cela a conduit au développement de nouvelles fonctionnalités, notamment des sources lumineuses protégées topologiquement, ainsi qu’à la découverte de phases exotiques impliquant des systèmes hors-équilibre, le désordre ou les dimensions synthétiques. Dans cette présentation, je discuterai des efforts de notre groupe pour tirer parti de la robustesse inhérente et de la flexibilité des structures photoniques topologiques.

Headshot of Olivia Di Matteo
Dr. Olivia Di Matteo

University of British Columbia

Dr. Olivia Di Matteo

Olivia Di Matteo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UBC, and a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Quantum Software and Algorithms. She obtained her PhD at the University of Waterloo and Institute for Quantum Computing in 2019 in Physics (Quantum Information). Following her PhD she worked as a Quantum Information Science Associate at TRIUMF, and as a Quantum Computing Educator and Researcher at the Toronto-based startup Xanadu. Her interests are quantum circuits and compilation, applying quantum algorithms to solve physics problem, and developing open-source software and educational materials.

Dates and Locations

Tuesday, March 5 at 12:00 pm EST

Mount Allison University (Virtual)

An introduction to quantum computing and software for physics applications

The past decade has seen massive advances in the development of quantum computing hardware and software. Simulation of quantum systems is a key use-case and researchers are developing many proof-of-concept applications across the spectrum of physical sciences. However, scaling up to realistic calculations that can push the boundaries of physics remains a major challenge. This talk will begin with an overview of the current state of quantum computing, with the intention of demystifying the technology, cutting through the hype, and setting realistic expectations in the near term. I will then highlight areas of physics, including some of our recent work on nuclear theory, where quantum computing has been applied to successfully solve toy problems. I will show examples of what it looks like to implement these algorithms using quantum software. The talk will close with a forward-looking discussion of resource estimation and the challenges in scaling and error correction that the field is currently tackling.

Headshot of Benedict Newling
Dr. Benedict Newling

University of New Brunswick

Dr. Benedict Newling

Ben Newling has been a member of the Department of Physics at UNB since 2002, when he arrived from England with a young family. The family is now a little bigger and a lot older. Ben’s first degrees were from the University of Cambridge. He occupied post-doctoral positions at the University of Surrey and with Unilever Research before working in industry at the Unilever Research Port Sunlight Laboratory. At UNB, Ben supervises graduate students in both magnetic resonance imaging and physics education research. He has played Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” in six different countries.

Dates and Locations

Thursday, March 7 at 5:30 pm EST

Simon Fraser University (Virtual)

Some Notes, on Musical Acoustics

The science behind music making is run through with the physics of vibrations and waves and physics has, over many centuries, provided tools and models to explain how music is generated and appreciated. Most of these tools and models are a part of the undergraduate physics curriculum and come together, harmoniously on occasion, in the science of sound. We will explore some of the peculiar physics of making musical instruments and measuring music and even (a little) about hearing notes.

Headshot of Ania Kwiatkowski
Prof. Ania Kwiatkowski

TRIUMF

Prof. Ania Kwiatkowski

Ania is the spokesperson for the TRIUMF’s Ion Trap for Atomic and Nuclear science (TITAN). Ion traps are her favorite technique since she can manipulate a single atom or a cloud of them with exquisite precision. This precision allows her to investigate the evolution of nuclear structure, to study nucleosynthesis, and to search for physics beyond the Standard Model.

Dates and Locations

Tuesday, March 12 12:30 pm EDT

Brock University (Hybrid)

It's a trap! What one trapped ion can tell us about the universe

An ion trap permits experiments with extraordinary precision even in a fraction of a second. This sophisticated control allows mass determinations of short-lived nuclides. Such measurements allow us to study the pressing questions in physics. How does nuclear structure evolve and what are the limits of existence? How did stars form from the primordial particle soup, and how do they die? What is the physics beyond the Standard Model? In this talk, I will motivate mass spectrometry of radioactive ions, describe this versatile technique, and discuss recent highlights from the TITAN facility.

Headshot of Gopolang Mohlabeng
Prof. Gopolang Mohlabeng

Simon Fraser

Prof. Gopolang Mohlabeng

My name is Gopolang Mohlabeng. I was born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. I hold a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Universities of Pretoria in South Africa. I earned my M.Sc and Ph.D from the University of Kansas after which I moved to Brookhaven National Laboratory as a postdoctoral research associate. I then moved for a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the McDonald Institute for Astroparticle Physics at Queen’s University in Canada. After a year at Queen’s, I moved to the University of California, Irvine as a UC Chancellor’s Advanced Postdoctoral fellow. I recently started a position as Assistant professor in the Physics department at Simon Fraser University. My specialty is particle theory and my research lies at the intersection between particle and astro-physics. My main research focus is on phenomena beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. In particular, uncovering and understanding the particle nature of dark matter.

Dates and Locations

Tuesday, March 19 at 3:30 pm EDT

Carleton University (Hybrid)

Searching for dark matter from the laboratory to the cosmos

There is overwhelming gravitational evidence for the existence of dark matter (DM). Yet we still have no idea what its microscopic nature is. For decades, we have been extensively searching for a class of particles called WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). However, after decades of search, we have not yet seen a clear signal of WIMPs. This has compelled us to consider a broader program based on new theoretical directions and search strategies, all the way from ultralight particles called Axions to Ultraheavy objects called primordial blackholes. In this talk, I will provide a review of the current status of DM searches and discuss some interesting theoretical and experimental directions to detect dark matter beyond WIMPs. I will focus on DM that is lighter than protons, but heavier than electrons in mass.

Headshot of Jason Holt
Prof. Jason Holt

TRIUMF

Prof. Jason Holt

Dr. Jason D. Holt is a theoretical nuclear physicist at TRIUMF and Adjunct faculty at McGill University. He received his PhD from Stony Brook University, as well as degrees in mathematics, and English literature from the University of Michigan. His research lies at the intersection of atomic, nuclear, particle, and astrophysics, aiming at once to unravel the origin of the elements and properties of neutron stars, to unlocking the mysteries of neutrinos, dark matter, and the underlying symmetries governing our universe. Jason is highly active, having published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and given over 150 invited talks at international meetings. Jason is also enthusiastically involved in public outreach and speaking to non-specialists about modern physics, in particular connecting science and art, as exemplified in his recent TEDx Talk, My Heroes Are Not Physicists, and the Theatre and Physics Symposium The Nature of Uncertainty in collaboration with the National Arts Centre of Canada, broadcast as an episode of Ideas on CBC Radio.

Dates and Locations

Tuesday, April 2 at 4:30 pm EDT

University of Saskatchewan (Hybrid)

The atomic nucleus as a window to new physics

What is the nature and mass of the neutrino? Why is there an abundance of matter over antimatter in our universe? And what is dark matter, anyway? Strangely enough, answers might very well lie, yet undiscovered, in impossibly rare nuclear decays, infinitely subtle wobblings of nuclei embedded in radioactive molecules, or the faintest recoils of nuclei colliding with dark matter. As the role of atomic nuclei in unraveling such fundamental mysteries continues to deepen, first principles quantum simulations, starting from only underlying nuclear and weak forces, are currently undergoing nothing short of a revolution. In this talk I will outline this modern ab initio approach and spotlight several recent milestones, including statistical predictions of the limits of existence and the neutron skin of 208Pb to constrain neutron star properties. Parallel advances also now allow first predictions of neutrinoless double beta decay, WIMP-nucleus scattering, and symmetry violating moments, with quantifiable uncertainties, for most, if not all, nuclei relevant for such searches.